Saturday, 29 September 2012

Seized by Darkness - and a giveaway!

'she said,he said...' welcomes Autumn Jordon. 

I'm delighted Autumn's come visiting today to tell us about her latest book-Seized by Darkness.  

***It's a really gripping story that you could be reading the whole way through-not just the blurb below-since Autumn's giving away a copy of Seized by Darkness to one lucky commenter! ***

Award-winning author Autumn Jordon is published in both romantic suspense and romantic western contemporary. Her first release ‘His Witness To Evil’ was a 2009 Golden Heart® finalist and also won the 2010 Golden Leaf for ‘Best First Book’. Taking events from life, twisting them and adding strong heroines and delicious heroes is the recipe she uses for her award-winning novels. She is living her dream as a full-time writer with her own hero in the shadows of the Blue Appalachian Mountains of northeast Pennsylvania. Visit her at

Thank you, Nancy, for hosting me today.  I guess we’re here to talk about romance novels. 

Why do millions of readers—I say readers because men actually makeup a good percentage of romance readers— head to their favorite book store each week and purchase books?  I know why I do.  Because I want to be whisked out of my world and become engrossed in a story about the meeting and growing relationship of two people. 

A plot is very important, but a story with the simplest of plots can become a best seller if the characters come to life. Bringing them to life is a writer’s priority and we do that through emotion. 

In my new release, Seized By Darkness, I dug deep into the emotions I felt for my mother, my father and my children.  Why those relationships? Because Seized by Darkness is about a young  
girl of sixteen, on the cusp of starting her life, disappearing.  She is kidnapped off the street she walked every day.  I drew on a realm of emotions I would feel if I had experienced a similar circumstance. I actually sat in a dark sectioned of my basement, listening to silence, and thinking about my family and how my disappearance would affect them. They’d search. My mother, who is a sweetheart, would be broken hearted and my father who has always been the protector would feel as if he’s failed. And he wouldn’t know how to comfort my mom.

My chest tightened and I could barely breathe as my thoughts turned to my children.  I honestly don’t know if I could keep it together if one of them were abducted.

After some reflecting, I decided to begin Seized By Darkness with Nicole eight years after she was snatched.  She now has a son from the Russian mafia monster that plucked her, as a virgin, from the trafficking mill and has kept her as his own. Nicole is strong, the way I hope I would be.  She has never given up hope that she would be free and she’ll do anything  to have her life back and ensure her son will not grow into a monster like his father. 

She is also fragile. Nicole hopes not, but wonders whether her family has forgotten about her.  Her faith has been broken.  And, she knows, without a doubt, that no man will ever look at her, much less love her, after she has been made a whore. 

Enter U.S. Marshal William Haus.  He is the man fairytales are made of.  Strong, intelligent and has a heart the size of the Utah salt flats and just as warm. 
You thought I was going to say drop dead handsome, but you can see that he is without a doubt fine.  But, Will has issues of his own, and as Nicole and he work to bring down the trafficking ring, his feelings for Nicole grow and he has no choice but to face his past.

Emotional? Yes, Seized By Darkness is filled with passion, mine.  
If you’re a writer, how do you discover your character’s emotions?   

And if you’re a reader, do you have any comments or questions? 

***One lucky commenter will win a digital copy of Seized By Darkness.  Pop something into the comments box, and leave your contact email address. I’ll select a winner and post the name here tomorrow afternoon.  Good luck!***

Here's a bit about the story:

Eight long years hostage Nicole Carson has lived a nightmare as the mistress of a mafia lord. When her captor brings home another kidnapped victim, she seizes the opportunity to save herself, her son and the young girl, leaving the Russian for dead. In order to stay alive and save the family she hasn’t seen in years from the mafia family’s wrath, she must disappear as if she’s never existed.

A sting to bring down the largest human trafficking ring in the country goes south for U.S. Marshal William Haus and his C.U.F.F. team. C.U.F.F. catches a break when the mistress of the Russian kingpin is captured with a kidnapped victim. Will bargains with the beautiful mistress. If she helps secure evidence against the mafia, she’ll earn a new life for her and her son. But when Will learns Nicole’s true identity, he wants to call the operation off. Nicole begs the handsome marshal to keep her secret and allow her to put her life on the line for her family.

A game of cat and mouse plays out between the U.S. Marshal and the ruthless Russian. The prize neither man wants to give up is Nicole.

 Seized By Darkness is available from Amazon and B&N in both digital and print format.
Amazon UK:

To learn more about Autumn Jordon please visit  

Thank you for visiting today, Autumn. Seized by Darkness is another for my TBR pile since I'm reading a lot more suspense these days! Best wishes for the rest of your book launch and for future sales.

Friday, 28 September 2012

It's those Mystical press Services!

This time last year my friend A.J. Nuest, a fellow author at The Wild Rose Press, was guiding me through all sorts of marketing ideas. She's visiting today to tell us about a fantastic new venture that has just launched this September. So, it's over to  you A.J. ...

Greetings and Salutations!

Many thanks to Nancy for hosting us on her blog today! We’ve got some really exciting news to share with everyone so grab that cuppa and let the blogging begin!
September marks the official
launch of Mystical Press Services!!!

In case you haven’t yet heard about our website, allow me to introduce you to a place where you just might find the fulfillment of your dreams. That’s right! The talented folks at Mystical Press want to help you reach your publishing goals!

How do we do that? I’m glad you asked!

Arial Burnz

Mystical Press is the culmination of an idea that came from two authors and professionally trained editors—Arial Burnz and AJ Nuest—where we help authors bridge the gap between the form rejection letter and publication. In fact, we believe in this venture so passionately, our tagline is “Helping authors achieve their dreams.” 

At Mystical Press our primary goal is to help writers. As authors, we understand the frustration of not receiving constructive and useful feedback, the aggravation of navigating the murky depths of the publishing industry and that, sometimes, authors just need a place to vent. Well, we’re here to tell you, the insanity can end!

Like-minded individuals can gather online at Mystical Press to work one-on-one with professional editors who help authors prepare their manuscripts for submission. Whether you are looking for a Manuscript Evaluation, Submission Evaluation, or a full story edit, we will give you honest, encouraging feedback and work diligently with you on your story to make sure it’s ready to land on an editor’s desk. No project is too big or too small and all receive the same precise attention to detail.

 Perhaps your submission is ready but you need assistance with smaller editing projects like a query letter and synopsis? Have no fear! Mystical Press is here! We offer a full edit of query letters and synopses with comments and suggestions that come directly from AN EDITOR! TAH-DAH!

And don’t worry! If your goal is to write your very own dynamite synopsis, at Mystical Press we believe in “teaching a man to fish”. Our Power Class, How to Write a WINNING Synopsis, is designed to easily guide you through the process of crafting your very own synopsis! Yes, that’s right. I used “easily” and “synopsis” in the same sentence!

The self-paced course curriculum at Mystical Press can assist in tackling those pesky problem areas as well (e.g., show vs. tell, POV shifts, realistic character and story development, etc.). If you’ve read books, articles and/or taken workshops and are still in search of that elusive contract offer, perhaps Mystical Press can help. Take one class or take a whole series—our online classes are designed to meet each writer’s individual needs. 

Is your next project of the self-publishing variety? Mystical Press has a selection of pre-made covers we guarantee will only be used once! No one will have the same cover! Or, if you’d like, we can design a cover specifically tailored to your vision—you will work one-on-one with our talented cover artists! We are also happy to edit your baby and can even format the document to meet the specifications of most popular self-publishing platforms.

Remember to mention Mystical Press to all your friends and fellow writing pals – here’s why. Mystical Press offers a free Referral Program. Just register on the site and we will assign you a Referral ID. If anyone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you earn a referral fee! Whether you choose cash or a credit for products or services on the site, consider this our thank you for helping us spread the word. 

Oh! And before I forget…we offer a wide range of gift certificates designed specifically with the writer in mind. Tired of searching for the “write” present for your author pals? Maybe that next birthday or anniversary calls for an eGift from Mystical Press!

So now that you know all about us, please tell us all about you! Head on over to Mystical Press and register free on the site. Everyone who does will be entered into our drawing for fabulous gifts and prizes! Join our celebration and together we will strive to get your voice heard! 

Wow! Those are fantastic services A.J. and Arial.  I wish you huge success with Mystical Press Services. Thank you for coming and explaining them so well today! 


Thursday, 27 September 2012

***Take Me Now got 3rd place***

Take Me Now just got 3rd place in the  September Book Trailer Video competition at

A huge thank you to everyone who has voted for it!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Alternate realities with Delsheree Gladden!

Today, 'she said, he said....' extends a huge welcome to a new friend-author DelSheree Gladden-from New Mexico.

DelSheree has recently had her YA novel- INQUEST- published by Briona Glen Publishing. She discusses some interesting questions about alternate realities...

Thank you, Nancy, for inviting me on your blog today. As I considered what to write about today, a question my six-year-old daughter asked me kept popping back into my mind. Lately my daughter, Abigail, has been very curious about where her food comes from. We discussed that beef comes from cows and chicken comes from actual chickens. Her next question made me laugh. Abigail asked, “Mom, what kind of animal do you have to kill to get a potato?”
Now this question may seem completely irrelevant to writing, but I’ll explain. Kids are so naturally curious. They are always trying to figure out this complicated world and piece together what makes sense and what doesn’t. Sometimes it takes a little creativity to get the pieces to work together.
Writers face this same problem every time they start a new book. Even when alternate realities aren’t involved like they are in my newest book, characters have to fit together, motives have to makes sense, and events need to follow a logical path. “Where do potatoes come from?” may not be on every writer’s mind, but how does the story go from point A to point B and actually make sense certainly is.

My newest novel, INQUEST, was just published by Briona Glen Publishing, and I went through these same questions while writing Libby Sparks’ story. When I first started out, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted the people of this alternate reality to be physically marked. I wanted those marks to determine their future roles. The other major point was that the main character would be dealt a fate she wanted nothing to do with – a destiny to destroy the world.
Then the real questions started. How did I write a character with all the power she could ever need to destroy an entire civilization, a girl hated and mistreated by everyone, and not make her out to get revenge from day one? (No promises on her desire for revenge by the end!)
The answer? Give her a good friend that tempered the bad. Give her the memory of a father who wanted to protect her, and wanted her to protect others. Give her hope that her life was meant for more than destruction.
Some of my next questions were: what do the markings look like, and what do I call them? Tattoos had already been used and disfigurement was a little too grotesque. I wanted something permanent and natural, but marks that would stand out. I remembered watching a documentary about keloid scarring and the idea of scar tissue that was perfectly shaped, impenetrable, and unchangeable began to form.
Now the marks needed a name. The name had to represent what these marks meant, so I went on a random word search that led me to a word I had never heard before: diktats. Diktat literally means, “a harsh, punitive settlement or decree imposed unilaterally on a defeated nation.” It was exactly what I was looking for!
One of the biggest questions I had while writing INQUEST was what kind of character was Libby going to be at the end of this trilogy. I had several options. She could become what she was meant to be and truly destroy everything, and enjoy doing so. The pressures she faces aren’t small, after all. Or, she could turn away from everything – her power, her destiny, her life – and refuse to fulfill her birthright. Another option? She could join those she was meant to fight against and lead rather than destroy. Now of course, I’m not going to give you the answer to this one – you’ll have to read the books to find out – but figuring the answer out took a lot of writing, rewriting, creative thinking, and listening to other writers’ advice.
So, what do potatoes and writing have to do with each other? When you don’t know where your book is going, what a character should do, or how the story should end, start with what seems most logical. If hamburgers and chicken nuggets come from animals, maybe potatoes do too. And when you realize they don’t, get creative and go on a hunt for a different answer. You may end up somewhere you never expected, but exactly where you needed to be. When you start asking questions, you start finding answers. For my daughter, she learned that potatoes grow under the ground and come from plants, not animals. For myself, I learned what one teenage girl with unlimited power can do when she makes a decision that will change the world. 

The 'pantser' in me likes your advice about starting with the logical. I really like the sound of INQUEST, and your Libby Sparks.
A bit more about DelSheeree
DelSheree Gladden lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children. The Southwest is a big influence in her writing because of its culture, beauty, and mythology. Local folk lore is strongly rooted in her writing, particularly ideas of prophecy, destiny, and talents born from natural abilities. When she is not writing, DelSheree is usually teaching yoga, coaching gymnastics, reading, painting, sewing, or studying about teeth as a Dental Hygiene student. Her works include Escaping Fate and the Twin Souls Saga. DelSheree's newest novel, Inquest, recently published by Briona Glen Publishing, is the first book in The Destroyer Trilogy. Inquest follows sixteen-year-old Libby Sparks as she tries to escape her destiny to destroy the world. But Libby soon realizes dodging fate might not be worth the price.
Author contact Details:

Here's a little bit about INQUEST before you read the the extract below. 

What would you do if your destiny was to bring chaos, and the end of the world? For Libby Sparks, turning sixteen means only one thing…death. Guardian rule demands she attend the ritualistic Inquest that will unveil her talents and secure her place in society. But that isn’t all that will be revealed in Libby’s case. The more talents you have the better, at least to some degree. Four or five talents will guarantee you a life of luxury, but seven…that is the mark of the Destroyer. Libby knows her Inquest will reveal her to be the Guardians’ greatest enemy. Their law requires her death before her eighteenth birthday. If she lives, prophecy foretells that the world will fall into chaos and destruction. Once her destiny is revealed, Libby is abandoned when her mother throws her out, her boyfriend tries to kill her, and her best friend shuts her out. Only Milo, a slightly grungy outcast, seems willing to be her friend—but Libby soon realizes he has secrets of his own. His secrets may very well have everything to do with her own destiny. In order to make it to her eighteenth birthday, Libby must bury her talents and convince the world she is harmless. Her plan only lasts until Milo is put in danger and Libby is forced to choose. Abandon her friend to save her own life, or embrace her destiny and truly become the Destroyer.

Excerpt from Chapter 3
Walking over to my desk at a slow, thoughtful pace, Mr. Walters surprises me by touching his index finger to the spot of dried blood on my neck. “If you don’t want your gifts then why didn’t you let Lance or the Guardian kill you last night? Why don’t you kill yourself right now?”
He pushes back his blazer sleeve and snatches the Guardian blade out of its sheath so quickly I barely see more than a flash of light on steel before it is pressing against my throat. A Guardian. My heart is pounding against my chest, my mind screaming at me to run. I am alone in a room with a Guardian who is apparently obsessed with the Destroyer. With me. And he has a knife balanced exactly against my carotid artery.
Black spots fleck my vision and I realize I’m hyperventilating. It requires all my quickly vanishing willpower to tap my Naturalism and slow my breathing enough to see clearly again. “If you ask me to kill you, I will do that for you, Libby, though I would not take any pleasure in it,” Mr. Walters says. “Or if you prefer to end your life by your own hand, I will not stop you. Either way, if death is what you truly want, I will allow you to have it. Right here. Right now. This is the only time I will make this offer, Libby. It is your choice.”
The pressure of the blade on my skin increases slightly, and I cry out. “No! No don’t!”
Instantly the knife is withdrawn, back in its sheath like it never left. “Why?” he asks.
“Because I don’t want to die,” I say. Tears bleed down my cheeks and I wipe them away furiously, angrily.
“You will die eventually. There is no doubting that.”
“But I don’t want to die yet, not today. Not for as long as I can manage it.” Maybe it’s wrong to want to live. With everything I’ve done, and am, I probably deserve to die. But I don’t want to. Not yet.
Placing his hands on my desk, Mr. Walters leans forward. His wizened features grow eerily strong and firm as he peers down at me. “If you don’t want to die, then you have to embrace who and what you are, Libby. Becoming the Destroyer is the only thing that is going to keep you alive.”

Purchase Links:

Thank you for sharing such an interesting blog post with us, today, DelSheree. I wish you the very best success with INQUEST.   

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Monday Moments Features Alana Lorens

Welcome to my Monday Moments spot. 
Today I welcome Alana Lorens who is featuring her contemporary novel 

Leyla Brand has one perfect day in her life: the day she meets rock singer Arran Lake at the Bele Chere Festival in Asheville. They have so much in common, Leyla is sure they are soulmates and will have a future together.
The very next morning, when Arran receives the call to hit the big time, he vanishes into the world of California rock and roll to become an international star, leaving her behind. Only a few phone calls keep them in touch -- until his phone is disconnected. After that, all she has of him is every new song that hits the charts.
Five years later, she gets a message on the Internet from an unfamiliar address. Someone wants to know if she's the Leyla of Bele Chere. Should she open that door and discover who this might be? Who else could it be? And if it is Arran, why does he want to contact her now, after all this time? Will he just break her heart again?

Leyla had been a fan, almost a groupie, of the Copper Moon band for the past several months, after she’d heard them play in a local bar. Their covers of other artists’ tunes were all right, but their originals, written by lead singer Arran Lake, spoke directly to Leyla’s heart. He was so easy on the eyes.  He stood about five feet ten, with Scandinavian-blond hair that curled around his ears, soft blue eyes that seemed to caress Leyla when they made contact with hers, and a casual vibe in his choice of clothing that let her know he was perfectly comfortable in his own skin.
I’d be pretty comfortable next to his skin, too.

Alana Lorens (aka Barbara Mountjoy) has been a published writer for over 35 years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at the South Dade News Leader in Homestead, Florida. Her list of publications includes the non-fiction book 101 Little Instructions for Surviving Your Divorce, published by Impact Publishers in 1999, stories in A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women, in December 2008, and A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Parents, in June 2009. Her Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series (as Lyndi Alexander) is available from Dragonfly Publishing; THE ELF QUEEN in 2010 and THE ELF CHILD in March 2011, with THE ELF MAGE coming out in early 2012.
Her first release (as Alana Lorens) is SECRETS IN THE SAND, in the Crimson Rose line from The Wild Rose Press. SInce then, the Wild Rose Press has also published CONVICTION OF THE HEART, another romantic suspense novel, the first in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series, and Zumaya Publications published the second in that series, SECOND CHANCES. In September 2012, The Wild Rose Press will release the contemporary novella THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE.
Alana also takes care of a husband and a bunch of kids and blogs on a variety of subjects, including autism, science fiction and life at Awalkabout.

Best wishes to Alana for future sales! 

Friday, 21 September 2012

How good is your castle building, I wonder?

Hello! My friend Alyson Reuben, a fellow Wild Rose Press author, has come visiting today.

But...before she shares a little about her latest launch, CASTLES WE BUILD, she's got a fantastic little quiz for you to get your teeth into. 

And after the quiz keep reading on because Alyson has shared a wonderful excerpt with us! You'll not want to miss the last line...

Thank you, Nancy, for inviting me here today.  I’m super stoked to share an excerpt from my newest book, CASTLES WE BUILD.  But, first, I want to ask readers to play a little “let’s pretend” game.  

Pretend you come face to face with these scenarios, all of which Julia, heroine of CASTLES WE BUILD, meets with.  

There are no rules for this game.  You can pick more than one answer.  Julia certainly did!


1. You were married to the man of your dreams before he went to war and never returned.  Several years later, you find yourself remarried to a wealthy executive, living in a Floridian beach house with your two children (three, counting a stepdaughter).  Life is good.  Life is peaceful.  Suddenly, the man you thought was lost forever walks back into your life, claiming he still loves you.
a. Throw your arms around him joyfully, laughing and crying.
b. Run away to an island with him.  Who cares about everyone and everything else.
c. Tell him to bug off.  You have a new life now.
d. Bring him home to meet your new family.

2. Your current husband finds out that your first husband is alive and back in town.
a. Tell him the complete truth and hope he’ll understand.
b. Chew him out and demand a divorce.
b. Lie and tell him he’s mistaken.
c. Run and hide before all heck breaks loose.

3. The mother who abandoned you, leaving you to help raise your younger sister, suddenly wants to be a part of your life again. 
a. Welcome her with open arms.  After all, everyone makes mistakes.
b. Be open to possibly forgiving her, but not before demanding an explanation for why she did what she did.
c. Tell to “stick it where the sun don’t shine”.
d. Polish your gun.

4. Your stepdaughter is on a party binge.  She brings home a rowdy houseful of strangers to stay overnight.  A fight breaks out.  And one guest in particular has a surprise ace up his sleeve. 
a. Order your stepdaughter to send them all packing… or else.
b. Call the police and let them get rid of the weirdos.
c. Rage, rant, and stomp your feet, making a complete fool of yourself.  Who cares if you have a gawking audience?
c. Grab her by the head of the hair and drag her across the floor, embarrassing her in front of her friends.

5. You get a disturbing phone call.  Some identifiable lunatic is holding your kidnapped son for a ransom.
a. Beg the kidnapper to release him.  Maybe even criminal lunatics have soft hearts.
b. Sit down and cry.  After all, there’s nothing you can do.
c. Hire a detective, pay the ransom, and pray the kidnapper will do as he/she promised.
d. Arm yourself, and go after the dirty son of a b#@# yourself. 

How’d you do?  Okay, so I threw in some crazy answers that most of us would never pick.  Still, without experiencing these issues, can we really know what we’d do?  In CASTLE WE BUILD, Julia’s choices and decisions come at a steep price.  And I don’t mean just money, honey.  But you’ll have to read the book - and I hope you do! - to find out more.

Castles We Build’s blurb:
She has a chance to relive her past. But at what cost?
When Julia married the man of her dreams, Landon Sloane, neither of them could have predicted the destructive impact of The Great War. Finding herself a widow and single mother in a period ripe with women’s suffrage and the prohibition, Julia married wealthy industrialist Ford Hampton.
Now, ten years later, with a son attending an academy for the gifted, a daughter with special needs, and a flapper stepdaughter who tests her daily, Julia is hardly prepared for Landon’s return from his long foreign captivity to announce he has never stopped loving her.
Faced with unrequited love for Landon, her life truly begins to unravel with the intrusion of her mother, who abandoned her as a child, a devastating factory fire, and an alarming encounter with a tawdry bootlegger. Finally, when her son is kidnapped in a diabolical scheme of revenge, Julia knows she has to make a final decision that will forever change everyone and everything in her life.

Castles We Build can be found at Amazon (ebook Kindle version will be available later this week):

For those who've never met Alyson yet, here's a little about her.
Back in elementary and high school, Alyson was always in trouble for jotting stories in her notebooks when she should’ve been studying for math tests. Detentions and trips to the principal's office aside, she was determined to become an author someday, no matter the price.
Fast forward a few years — okay, actually several years — she began writing historical romance and women's fiction, leading to the debut of A BEAUTIFUL CAGE, published by the Wild Rose Press in 2011.
Now she gets in trouble for writing stories when she should be cooking dinner for her family.

There he is.  A man whose memory I desperately tried to lay to rest at his memorial site in Westbrook Cemetery. 
            Landon Sloane.
            For a few seconds, I wobble, my peripheral vision closing in.  I’m about to pass out….
            Suddenly, he grins.  And the grin does the same thing to me now that it did nine years ago, saving me from losing consciousness.  Saving me, period.
            He holds out his arms, and I rush into them, moaning as his mouth claims mine in a kiss that’s like a drowning man clutching a lifesaver. Pulling me inside and reaching behind me to slam the door shut, his hands grip at my clothes and my hair, tangling in them as if hoping to extract the essence of everything I am.
            Now he’s kissing my cheeks.  My forehead.  My chin.  The places behind my ears.  The hollow of my neck.  The skin above my lace collar.  My breasts through the voile fabric.  My legs as he pushes up the hem of my frock. 
            And I’m falling backward on a bed that seems to have appeared like magic.  Calling his name.  Over and over.  He answers me with a voice tinted by a slight brogue, as familiar as the sound of leaves rustling in the wind.  Yes.  Yes, he’s really Landon Sloane.  Alive.  Very alive.  And my name is also on his lips, coming out in hoarse whispers, pressed against my skin, branding me with what’s always been there, never disappearing completely, but only lying dormant — my love for him.
            Rising above me, his body comes down over mine in the ancient way that has coupled countless lovers.  In the same way that summoned us in the past with pleasure and intoxication.  I grip him, pulling him closer, needing him to complete what’s lacking.  To satiate me with his heat and energy….
            A little girl’s cry floats through the room. 
            Gracie!  Just that suddenly, I push Landon back, forcing his flushed face away from mine.  No, I’m not thinking clearly.  That wasn’t a girl’s voice.  Just a bird outside the open window.  One that has a trill similar to a child’s outburst.
            For several seconds Landon and I stare at each other, saying nothing.  He looks the same.  Yet, different in several ways.  Slimmer…a little too slim.  A leathery tan that makes his eyes brighter, as potent as midnight’s navy sky in a flash of lightning.
            I’m lying here half naked.  With a husband I thought would never return from the war he left to fight nine years ago.  And the question hits me like a rock to the stomach.  “Why, Landon?  Why didn’t you come home?  Where have you been?”
            He visibly swallows, his face glistening with perspiration and what might very well be tears.  “My ship sank off the coast of South Africa.  Most of the men didn’t….  Anyway, me and my lieutenant were rescued by natives.  They had bartering friends who traded with them.  Local radicals who supported the enemy forces.  I think a few of them even had direct ties with Germany.”
            His voice has deepened, grown huskier with age.  I try to concentrate on his words, needing desperately to understand.  To make sense of this unexpected phenomenon: the miracle of his rise from the dead. 
            “So me and the lieutenant were arrested and held in an encampment.  Seventeen straw huts surrounded by a high fence.  Guards with guns and long pikes.  Shared it with criminals and other detainees.  We didn’t even know when the war was over.  Guess they liked having free laborers too much to set us free.  Or maybe they just liked trapping us like mice in a maze.”  His voice is hard now.  Gritty.  Full of hatred and anger.  In a tone I don’t recognize. 
            “They finally released us last month.  Because of some new political uprising, I think.  I don’t know exactly who or what…. I only care that I’m free.  Back where I can see you.  Hold you.  And…oh, God, if I can just get all this filth out of my head.”  He sits up beside me, gripping the sides of his head.
            The hair at his temples is peppered with silver.
            It used to be completely dark, the color of coffee with no creamer. 
            Like Brent’s.
            I reach for him, pulling him to me.  Prison.  For almost a decade.  What a nightmare that must’ve been.  The hurt is palpable, transferring between us.  “It’s over, darling,” I whisper near his ear.  “And I’m so glad you’re back, safe and sound.  Alive.”
            He folds his arms around me so that we’re huddled in a ball.  And we stay that way.  Unmoving.  Quiet.  For a very long time.
            His heavy breathing steadies to a hoarse snore; the sound of a man who hasn’t had good, clean rest for a long time.  He shifts, spreading out his arms in unconscious freedom.  And I release him, sitting up gently in order not to wake him. 
            The bedroom is mostly bare.  A utilitarian iron bed.  A dresser.  A shabby club chair.  But nothing else.  I stare at the open window where the cage hangs, dangling slightly in the breeze.  There are no finches in it.  Or any other birds.  The door is hanging open, facing the outside.
            He won’t cage anything again.
            I push my tousled hair from my face, combing both hands through the chin-length strands.
            None of this is the way it should be. 
            It’s all messed up somehow.
            Ford’s face enters my mind.  Just the way he looked last night, smiling at me from the dinner table.
            Oh, God.
            I’m married to someone else.
            And I have a family.
            Two men. 
            Two husbands.

Now that is a fabulous excerpt, Alyson. Thank you for coming along and sharing it with us, today. I wish you the very best for a fantastic launch for CASTLES WE BUILD